Three Senate GOP chairmen raise concerns over Comey’s dismissal

Three Senate GOP chairmen raise concerns over Comey’s dismissal

Three Senate Republican chairmen with oversight of national security issues signaled Tuesday evening their concern over the sudden termination of FBI Director James Comey in the midst of his agency’s investigation of Russia’s influence over the White House.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain shares video of father shutting down supporter who called Obama an 'Arab' after Trump rally Graham: Every Republican president or nominee 'will be accused of being a racist' No presidential candidate can unite the country MORE (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that he was “disappointed in the president’s decision to remove James Comey from office.”

He said the unexpected dismissal in the midst of a probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible Russian government ties to senior advisers to President Trump warrants the appointment of a special prosecutor.

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“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” McCain said. “The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and the urgency for such a committee.”

Joining McCain, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) signaled Tuesday night that he is also concerned about the surprise development.

“While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions,” said Corker, whose panel has examined efforts by Russia to influence elections.

Corker said it’s “essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion.”

He added that “it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders mounts staunch defense of 'Medicare for All' | Biden, Sanders fight over health care heats up | House votes to repeal ObamaCare 'Cadillac Tax' | Dems want details on fetal tissue research ban Top North Carolina newspapers editorial board to GOP: 'Are you OK with a racist president?' Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-N.C.) also said he is “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”

He praised Comey as “a public servant of the highest order,” and said “his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.”

“His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation,” he added.

Comey told senators before he was fired that the FBI was investigating members of Trump’s administration for possible ties to the Russian influence on the election.

But he declined to reveal during direct questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee whether the president himself was a target of the investigation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally Third Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell MORE (R-Ky.) has tasked the Senate Intelligence Committee with investigating Russia’s influence in the 2016 election, but Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to handle the probe.

Now Democrats hope that Republicans in addition to McCain, such as Corker or Burr, might be persuaded to back a special independent investigation.

But other Republicans gave Trump political cover on Tuesday night. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyScandal in Puerto Rico threatens chance at statehood Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection MORE (R-Iowa) said Comey’s leadership on an array of controversial issues, including an investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE’s handing of classified information, gave Trump cause for action.

“Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey’s decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamScarborough sounds alarm on political 'ethnic cleansing' after Trump rally The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary panel’s Crime and Terrorism subcommittee, said “a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.”